Public Conceptions of Scientific Consensus

Abstract

Despite decades of concerted efforts to communicate to the public on important scientific issues pertaining to the environment and public health, gaps between public acceptance and the scientific consensus on these issues remain stubborn. One strategy for dealing with this shortcoming has been to focus on the existence of scientific consensus on the relevant matters. Recent science communication research has added support to this general idea, though the interpretation of these studies and their generalizability remains a matter of contention. In this paper, we describe results of a qualitative interview study on different models of scientific consensus and the relationship between such models and trust of science, finding that familiarity with scientific consensus is rarer than might be expected. These results suggest that consensus messaging strategies may not be effective.

July 18, 2022 at 06:47PM

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